Carolina Panthers: How much can team ask of Christian McCaffrey?

(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /
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The Carolina Panthers need to be careful about how they use their running back in 2020.

The Carolina Panthers have to be careful with Christian McCaffrey heading into the 2020 season. Yes, he is only in his third season in the league.  However, he has already racked up a ton of miles and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

I’m not taking anything away from him. He’s a workhorse, and the ultimate competitor. There is no doubt that he has trained hard enough and worked hard enough to be able to sustain this level of production. If nothing else, he has been consistent. However, he has been putting up astronomical numbers and I have to wonder when that will catch up to him.

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Looking at things statistically, he recorded 219 rushing attempts for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. Playing in all 16 games, he only fumbled twice. In 2019, we saw an even bigger workload. He played every single game, carrying the ball 287 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns. He only fumbled once.

He has also proven to be a workhorse receiving the football over the past two seasons. In 2018, he caught 107 passes for 867 yards and six touchdowns. He saw an even bigger workload in 2019 when he caught 116 passes for 1,005  yards and four touchdowns. He recorded 41 first-down catches in 2018 and 58 first-down catches in 2019.

Taking a look at his snap-count numbers is even more staggering. He was on the field for 1,039 offensive snaps. That amounted to 93.35% of all offensive snaps. That number was up from the 966 snaps he took in 2018. That was 91.30% of all offensive snaps for the Carolina Panthers in 2018.

How much more can do for Carolina? He has literally put the team on his back throughout his career, and that was definitely evident last year. It would be extremely difficult ask him to do anything more. The Panthers need to be careful with how much they use him. I’m not saying to bench him. He is too valuable to do that.

What I am saying is to get some depth behind him. Using Jordan Scarlett more would be a great start. Scarlett saw the field for eight snaps in 2019. That is unacceptable. He needs to see the field more. Why else would you draft him if he’s not going to help with depth behind McCaffrey?

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The Panthers need to rework their approach with the running backs. McCaffrey can’t do it all by himself.   Traditionally, running backs do not have a long shelf life. You would hate to burn McCaffrey out at 23 years of age. These snaps may not catch up to him right now, but they might later on in his career. I would hate to see him retire early, he is fantastic to watch. Hopefully, the Carolina Panthers will work on making sure to preserve their star, especially if a run at the postseason is in sight in 2020.